COACH: Michael Curry | 2007-08: 59-23
Detroit Pistons

Chauncey Billups and the Pistons have made six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
D. Lippett Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Pistons fans may not like to hear this, but your favorite team is in danger of becoming the Atlanta Braves of the NBA.

You may know the Braves' story: 14 consecutive playoff appearances, a copious collection of Cy Young winners, gobs of Gold Glovers, an abundance of All-Stars but only one World Series win in a decade in a half to show for it.

That's frustrating to say the least. Pistons fans and Detroit's president of basketball operations Joe Dumars must feel the same way after seven consecutive 50-win seasons, an abundance of All-Stars (Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace), some hardware (former Pistons' Ben Wallace's four Defensive Player of the Year awards while a member of the Palace guard), two Finals appearances but only one NBA title to show for it.

Now, most franchises wouldn't complain about winning an NBA title (you think Dallas wants a re-do of 2006? You bet...), but Detroit's a tough town with a tough exec in Dumars. That could be the biggest difference between the two franchises. The Braves have stuck with one man -- Bobby Cox -- as manager for 18 years, where Michael Curry becomes the fourth Pistons coach in eight seasons.

After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight Playoffs, Dumars dismissed Flip Saunders, who had 176 wins and .715 winning percentage in the regular season, and had this to say about those All-Star stalwarts on the roster.

"I'm not going to sit here and make Flip the scapegoat," president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said Tuesday. "Everybody is in play.

"There are no sacred cows here. You lose that sacred-cow status when you lose three straight years."


But if you look at the Pistons roster now, Dumars didn't mooooove any of those sacred cows, and he won't apologize to them or anyone else for floating the idea.

Still, what Dumars has on the Pistons roster is considerable talent and experience. Chauncey Billups will be solid and, on occasion, spectacular at the point. Richard Hamilton still comes off screens better than any player in the NBA and will wear his opponent down running off said picks. Tayshaun Prince will play lockdown D and come up with a huge block more often than not. Rasheed Wallace will provide his usual mix of crazy/brilliant/moody play. Antonio McDyess will provide 20 solid minutes and his eight points and eight boards. (Or not...).

That, and the young Zoo Crew featuring Rodney Stuckey, who may get extended minutes, Jason Maxiell, Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson can provide quality minutes off the bench.

Yet, as great as consistency may be, Dumars expects excellence. Winning in the regular season may get you homecourt advantage in the playoffs, but if you can't use it to your advantage, what good does it do you?

Enter Curry, who had one season as Saunders' assistant before taking over the clipboard. Former teammate Jerry Stackhouse noted Curry was a coach on the floor.

"It was just a matter of time," Stackhouse said. "Everybody who knew Michael from his playing days knew this is where he would end up.

"He's going to do great for Detroit because he already has great rapport with those players, who will give him a different kind of respect because he played in the league."
If anything, Curry told Pistons.com's Keith Langlois that he considers himself a sponge when it comes to basketball knowledge. Curry also knows the learning curve will be small because he can trust those time-tested All-Stars, especially Billups, to make sure things go right.

The big question is: how will Curry react when things go wrong? That will be the truest test.

Until then, maybe a different voice will get the Pistons back to the Finals because Dumars has shown he won't accept more of the same.

-- Rob Peterson

Choose from four different miniplans

Johnson
Amir Johnson, are you ready to step into the Pistons starting lineup? I know you've been in the league for three seasons, played in 73 games and started none of them. But with McDyess more comfy coming off the pine, who else are they going to turn to at power forward?

Um, if you look at the Pistons roster, there isn't anyone else. It's been reported that you're getting every chance in training camp to fulfill every hoop dream a kid could dream of: starting in the NBA.

Not to worry, you'll have plenty of experience in that starting lineup from which to draw. You won't be required to do more than set picks, bang, board, hit the occasional open shot and provide a fresh set of legs for the greybeards, three of which have been to the conference finals each of the past six seasons.

Then again, your inexperience, if you do start, won't be an excuse:

"We expect more out of Amir Johnson. He's shown, at times, that he can be very good. But we want that from him consistently."

So, there it is. Good luck. You know the saying: it's not how you start, it's how you finish.

THE STAT
115 Number of games Tayshaun Prince has played in the postseason, the most for any player in his first six seasons in the league.
With the core of the team returning, especially Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace they have the best starting unit in the East Ė sorry Celtics fans.
Their chemistry has always been a question because of the volatility of Wallace.
Throw in a rookie coach with very limited coaching experience and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
Donít look for anything dramatic to happen until a couple months into the season. If it falls apart it wonít happen until after the New Year.
-- NBA Scout
Rip Hamilton isnít the type of player who will go off for 50 points or dominate a game with thunderous dunks. Instead, heíll work his mid-range game, can those sweet little jumpers, and before you know it, heíll have 18-20 points and another win for the Pistons.

Need more? Order Rotowire's Draft Kit on NBA.com
NBA.com Fantasy Index

Record: 48-34, 2nd in Eastern Conference
Playoffs: Lost in Conference Semis to Boston., 4-3
Scoring Leader: R. Hamilton, 23.2 PPG
Rebounding Leader: R. Wallace, 7.2 RPG
Assist Leader: C. Billups 8.8 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2007-08 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Chauncey Billups 17.0 6.8 2.7
SG Richard Hamilton 17.3 3.3 4.2
SF Tayshaun Prince 13.2 4.9 3.3
PF Jason Maxiell 7.9 5.3 0.26
C Rasheed Wallace 12.7 6.6 1.8

G Arron Affalo 3.7 1.8 0.7
G Rodney Stuckey 7.6 2.3 2.8
F Walter Herrman 3.4 1.6 0.4
F Amir Johnson 3.9 3.8 0.5
F Kwame Brown Free agent
G Will Bynum Free agent
F Walter Sharpe Draft
G Jarvis Hayes Free agent
C Theo Ratliff Free agent
G Juan Dixon Free agent
Points Scored 97.5 (17th)
Points Allowed 90.07 (1st)
Field-Goal Percentage .458 (13th)
Opponents' FG% .437 (3rd)
Rebounding Diff. +2.29 (7th)
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